Somerset Accountant On: Handling Crazy Customers

Somerset Accountant On: Handling Crazy Customers

December 19, 2011

“Winners take imperfect action while losers are still perfecting the plan.”
-Tony Robbins

There’s this new book from Richard Paul Evans (he of The Christmas Box fame), called Lost December and it’s a re-telling of the story of the prodigal son. [By the way, did you know that “prodigal” is usually misunderstood to mean “lost”, when it actually means “wastefully extravagant”?] It’s a modernized update of the story, and among MANY business lessons in the book, one stands out which prompted me to put together this week’s Note. Without spoiling the story, basically the once-wealthy protagonist is reduced to a “menial” job at a copy center … but learns to thrive there. And one of the ways the reader is shown this is through his handling of a very upset customer.

The vignette itself is a veritable clinic on how to deal with upset customers, but since you might not have read the book, I’ll give you, instead, a rundown. If you’re in retail, this information might come in handy for you to email to your employees or co-workers around this time of year… (And, of course, we’re happy to help them out on their taxes too! Make sure they tell us that you sent them, though!)

Mark Clark’s “Real World” Business Strategy How To Deal With Customer Complaints — Even The Crazy Ones

For retailers, this is that time of year they live for…but it’s also the time when stress is at its HIGHEST! (For you AND your customers.) And you can make some major mistakes around now, if you aren’t trained in handling complaints — because no matter how good you do what you do, you will get complaints. And, by the way, if you’re not a retailer, this stuff applies just as much to you, so listen up

Here are my suggestions for training your staff to take care of upset customers…

1) Hear the customer and don’t interrupt.  You don’t interrupt  for two reasons: A. It’s rude to interrupt B. When people are upset they practice what they are going to say.  And they practice it from the beginning.  If you interrupt, they are going to start all over again and go off script.  So… don’t interrupt.  Obviously, if the client is getting loud and unruly you may need to quietly interrupt.  But, in almost all cases, don’t.

2) Mirror back (empathize) with something like: “I can understand why you’re upset.  I would be upset too.” or, “I’m really sorry that happened to you.”

3) Ask: “What can I do to make this right?”  It doesn’t  get much easier than that.  Often, you won’t even have to ask the question because it’s pretty obvious what needs to be done.  What’s most important in this step is that the attitude is right — empathy is everything!

4) Resolve – Unless the request is absolutely ridiculous, DO IT! What’s so great about this approach (and this has been studied, proven and established with myriad scholarly studies): Often you leave the customer even HAPPIER with you than before the problem occurred!

Yes, that’s actually a likely scenario, because they will appreciate how you bent over backwards to make them happy again. Try me on this, and thank me later!